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Top US general says China currently lacks military capability to take Taiwan by force

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 6/18/2021 Jamie McIntyre
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CHINA LACKS ‘ACTUAL NO-KIDDING CAPABILITY’: Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told Congress yesterday that while China’s long-term goal remains to unite Taiwan with the mainland eventually, the Chinese military is not yet capable of mounting a successful invasion to subdue the island.

“I think China has a ways to go to develop the actual no-kidding capability to conduct military operations to seize through military means the entire island of Taiwan, if they wanted to do that,” Milley said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Milley also said the current U.S. intelligence assessment is that Beijing is making no preparations for military actions, despite a recent series of provocative actions, including an exercise this week in which 28 Chinese aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.

“We could go into a classified session and tell you why I think this, but I think that there is little intent right now or motivation to do it militarily. There's no reason to do it militarily, and they know that,” Milley said. “So, I think right now, the probability is probably low, in the immediate, near-term future.”

“But I do think it is a core national interest of China to unite Taiwan,” Milley said, adding, “The internal politics of China are up to China, as long as whatever is done is done peacefully and doesn't destabilize that region of the world.”


‘MEDIUM’ RISK OF ISIS AND AL QAEDA REGENERATING: Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were testifying in support of President Joe Biden’s $715 billion defense budget, which Republicans have deemed inadequate, but they also faced questions about what will happen after U.S. and international troops depart Afghanistan later this year.

“How would you rate the likelihood of international terrorist organizations like al Qaeda and ISIS regenerating inside of Afghanistan and presenting a threat to our homeland or our allies, given what you see today?” asked South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. “Is it small, medium, large?”

“I would assess it as medium,” said Austin. “I would also say, senator, that it would take possibly two years for them to develop that capability.”

“I concur with that,” said Milley, “and I think that if certain other things happen, if there was a collapse of the government or a dissolution of the Afghan Security Forces, that risk would obviously increase.”

NOT A DONE DEAL: “I'm very concerned that Afghanistan is going to fall to the Taliban and that we once again will see the imposition of Sharia law and that girls and women will not be allowed to pursue an education or participate fully in society,” said Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

“Your concern is a valid concern,” said Milley. “There are a wide range of outcomes that we've looked at, and we assess that based on risk.”

Currently, the Afghanistan government forces, numbering between 325,000 and 350,000, are holding against the Taliban, despite rising violence and recent Taliban territorial gains.

“Now, the question remains, what will happen in the future? Will that military disintegrate? Will the government collapse? Will the Taliban come in? If the answer to that worst-case scenario is yes, then I think your concern is a very valid concern,” Milley said, but he added, “This is not a done deal yet.”

“They're probably going to be at risk, but I would also tell you that is not a certain outcome,” he said. “There are many other outcomes that are possible, and we're going to work to try to have those outcomes achieved as opposed to the worst-case outcome.”


Good Friday morning, and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Victor I. Nava. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email, and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter: @dailyondefense.


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NOTE TO READERS: Daily on Defense will not publish on July 5 as we observe the long Independence Day holiday weekend. Back on July 6.

HAPPENING TODAY: If you’re wondering where your DOD civilian colleagues are today, many are off in honor of America’s newest federal holiday, Juneteenth, signed into law just yesterday by President Joe Biden.

The holiday marks the events of June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved black people in Galveston, Texas, 2 1/2 years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in Southern states.

Because Juneteenth falls on a Saturday this year, the Office of Personnel Management directed that the nation's 2.4 million federal employees should have today off, setting off a scramble in many offices to finish work and reschedule meetings.

“By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we’ve come but the distance we have to travel,” said Biden at yesterday's signing ceremony.

HOUSE REPEALS 2002 AUMF: The House voted yesterday 268-161 to revoke the 2002 authorization for the use of military force in Iraq, sending the measure to the Senate for a vote later this year.

“Circumstances on the ground in Iraq have changed dramatically since passage of the 2002 AUMF. Significantly, we now count the democratic Iraqi government our partner in our counterterrorism mission. As such, it is time to repeal this authority,” said House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Adam Smith, a Washington state Democrat. “The House confirmed, in a bipartisan way, the repeal of an authorization for use of military force that is no longer applicable.”

The repeal had the backing of 49 of the 209 voting Republicans, with one Democrat voting against it.

“Democrats have been attempting to revoke the Iraq War powers for years, arguing the decades-old authorization is unnecessary and cuts Congress out of important military decisions,” reports Washington Examiner Chief Congressional Correspondent Susan Ferrechio. “The resolution won some bipartisan support, but many Republicans voted against it out of concern that a blanket repeal would limit the U.S. military from combating terrorism in the Middle East.”

But Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin argued the vote was “a matter of basic constitutional hygiene” and “a small but significant step forward in reasserting Congress’s war powers authorities.”

“The second-step to reclaiming our Constitutional war powers is to repeal other outdated AUMFs — like those from 1957 and 1991 — and to reform the 2001 AUMF,” Gallagher said in a statement.

“For too long the American people’s voice on matters of war and peace — deciding when and why we send our troops into harm’s way — has been absent,” said Nate Anderson, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, after the vote. “Debating and authorizing military action is one of Congress’s most solemn duties, and repealing the outdated 2002 AUMF is a step toward Congress reasserting itself in this important role.”


BIDEN PRAISED BY PUTIN: In a video teleconference with graduating management students yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin had some surprisingly complimentary words of praise for his U.S. counterpart.

He told the students not to be fooled by the fact that the 78-year-old President Joe Biden “sometimes gets confused,” noting his “young, educated, and beautiful” press secretary Jen Psaki “gets things confused all the time herself.”

“I want to say that the image of President Biden as portrayed by our and even the US media has nothing to do with reality,” Putin said according to a Kremlin transcript. “He is completely knowledgeable on all issues; he peeked at his notes from time to time. We all do that.”

“Mr. Biden is a professional, and you need to be very careful when working with him so as not to miss something. He himself does not miss a thing, I assure you, and this was absolutely clear to me,” Putin continued. “Let me say it again: He is focused. He knows what he wants to achieve and does it very skilfully, and you can instantly sense it.”

‘THE FUTURE, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, IS GOING TO GET HERE SOMEDAY’: In his every appearance before Congress, Gen. Mark Milley makes the argument that while some people are unhappy with the low levels of funding of existing weapons and systems, it’s more important to fund things that are going to help fight and win future wars.

“We cannot invest in horses when we're about to face machine guns and tanks. Those mistakes were made 100, 150 years ago. We can't do that. We must keep pace with the threat environment that's ongoing,” Milley argued. “We are in the midst of a change in the character of war, perhaps the biggest change in over 100 years, and we are investing in hypersonics, robotics, 5G, microelectronics, and all kinds of investments in this, and this is the beginning of a pivot to a future U.S. military that will be able to maintain its overmatch in some future conflict against, for example, a pacing threat like China.”

“This budget starts leaning into the future, and it's now that we need to pivot because the future, believe it or not, is going to get here someday, and about 10 or 15 years from now, we will be in a world of hurt,” he said.

CYBERCRIME BILL IS BACK: The only chance for a bill to get through Congress is for it to have bipartisan support, so it’s notable that the International Cybercrime Prevention Act reintroduced yesterday has two Republican sponsors, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Thom Tillis, and two Democrats, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Richard Blumenthal.

“This legislation will dramatically increase penalties for those engaged in cybercrime and cyberterrorism, hopefully sending the message that America will not tolerate such criminal activity against our economy and our people,” said Graham in a statement.

“From ransomware attacks on American companies and critical infrastructure to the pillaging of citizens’ private data for profit, it’s clear we need to arm authorities to protect Americans against cybercrime,” said Whitehouse. “This bill would give law enforcement new tools to crack down on criminal activity and hold bad actors accountable.”

LOST GUNS: An Associated Press investigation that found that at least 1,900 U.S. military firearms were lost or stolen during the 2010s, with some resurfacing in violent crimes, has prompted a review at the Pentagon.

“The Army takes weapons accountability very seriously,” said Army chief spokeswoman Col. Cathy Wilkinson.

“While we have stringent physical security measures, we have more work to do to ensure that our property accountability and criminal reporting systems are seamlessly linked together,” Wilkinson said in a statement. “The Army staff met [Thursday] to develop a way forward to fix this problem, and we will provide more information as this effort evolves.”

“Government records covering the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force show pistols, machine guns, shotguns and automatic assault rifles have vanished from armories, supply warehouses, Navy warships, firing ranges and other places where they were used, stored or transported,” the Associated Press reported. “These weapons of war disappeared because of unlocked doors, sleeping troops, a surveillance system that didn’t record, break-ins and other security lapses that, until now, have not been publicly reported.”


The Rundown

Washington Examiner: In the war of 2034, China has won the first battle without firing a shot

Washington Examiner: House votes to revoke Iraq War powers, this time with presidential approval

Washington Examiner: Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas pressed by Republicans and Democrats to hire more Border Patrol agents

Washington Examiner: Chinese diplomat vows to ‘keep striking’ Western public opinion

Washington Examiner: Space Force acquisition chief vacancy remains as GOP lawmakers warn of falling behind foes

Washington Examiner: Putin summit gives Biden another chance to say he's not Trump

Defense News: Navy releases long-range shipbuilding plan that drops emphasis on 355 ships, lays out fleet design priorities

AP: Senator: Military justice changes must go beyond sex cases

Washington Post: Newly released video shows former NYPD cop striking officer with flagpole during Capitol riot, DOJ says

Washington Post: With deck stacked for hard-line candidate, Iranians debate whether to vote at all

USA Today: 'Abuse of power': Bolton considering legal action against Trump-era officials who sued him over tell-all book



9:30 a.m. The German Marshall Fund's Brussels Forum webinar “Making Cyberspace Safe for Democracy,” with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy Mieke Eoyang.

12 p.m. — Hudson Institute virtual discussion: “The Future of America's Defense Industrial Base,” with former Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord, senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory; former Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Industrial Policy Jeffrey "Jeb" Nadaner, executive vice president for government and public affairs at Security America's Future Energy; Arthur Herman, director of the Hudson Quantum Alliance Initiative; and Bryan Clark, director of the Hudson Center for Defense Concepts and Technology.


1 p.m. — Defense One Tech Summit, with Gen. John Murray, commanding general, Army Futures Command; Kerri Dugan, director of the Biological Technologies Office, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and Kayvon Modjarrad, M.D., director of Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research


10 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies Missile Defense Project webinar: “Missile Defense Agency's FY 2022 program and its priorities,” with Vice Adm. Jon Hill, director, Missile Defense Agency; and Tom Karako, senior fellow, International Security Program and director, Missile Defense Project, CSIS.

1 p.m. — Defense One Tech Summit, with Brian Weeden, director of program planning, Secure World Foundation; and Derek Tournear, director, Space Development Agency.


10 a.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Committee hearing: “The Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of Defense,” with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.

1 p.m. — Defense One Tech Summit, with Rob Joyce, director of the Cybersecurity Directorate, National Security Agency; Maj. Steven Harvey, director of partnerships and technology, Marine Corps Installation Next; Randy Clark, Business Development and Strategic Planning for DOD and Public Safety, Verizon Business Group; and Lt. Col. Brandon Newell, director of technology and partnerships, Marine Corps Installation Next.

2 p.m. — Association of the U.S. Army “Thought Leaders” webinar: “The Army’s growing role in the Indo-Pacific,” with retired Gen. Robert Brown, AUSA executive vice president and a former commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific; retired Navy Adm. Scott Swift, former commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet; Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute and chief executive officer of Source Associates; and Tom Karako, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


1 p.m. — Defense One Tech Summit, with Mieke Eoyang, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy; and Chris Lynch, CEO and co-founder, Rebellion Defense.


1 p.m. — Defense One Tech Summit, with Tim Grayson, director, Strategic Technology Office, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and Lisa Sanders, director of science and technology for special operations forces, acquisition, technology and logistics, U.S. Special Operations Command.


“This budget starts leaning into the future, and it's now that we need to pivot because the future, believe it or not, is going to get here someday, and about 10 or 15 years from now, we will be in a world of hurt. … We cannot invest in horses when we're about to face machine guns and tanks. Those mistakes were made 100, 150 years ago.”

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

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Original Author: Jamie McIntyre

Original Location: Top US general says China currently lacks military capability to take Taiwan by force


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